Thursday, July 29, 2010

Opera Thursday

Our intrepid man about town, Ray from MN, is back in the movie theaters for this week's HD encore of the Met’s Carmen, and files this report:

Well, I learned something tonight. Carmen is not about bullfighting!

I would have lost my meager fortune had I bet on that pre-conception.

Enjoyed it very much. But enormously different from La Boheme, to say the least. I thought the first two acts were a bit slow and unfocused for me but towards the end it was very riveting.

What is with all the tra la la-ing in some of the lyrics? Gypsy technique?

I was amused by all the smoking by the cigarette girls and the lyrics about "clouds of smoke", but I'll be danged if I could see any. Actually, I did see one of the men exhale a bit of smoke.

I wondered about the cigarettes. When were they "invented?" I would have thought about 1900, but Wikipedia tells me that the French started manufacturing them about 1845. But they first were used in Spain in the 16th century.

Who knew you could learn so much from a night at the opera?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The mosque at Ground Zero

My man Newt speaks on the controversy surrounding the Ground Zero mosque. What I find particularly interesting about this debate is the argument from some that the mosque should be allowed on, essentially, freedom of religion rights.  I find this an interesting argument, not least because in some cases it comes from people one would think would know better. (On the other hand, of course, one can't rule out the possiblility that they're simply idiots. See above source.)

It is, nonetheless, challenging to offer a response to it when it comes from culturally conservative Christians; it's somewhat like trying to answer the question about whether or not you're still beating your wife.

And that's why Gingrich's answer is powerful. Without lapsing into the hysterically purple prose to which those same some resort, Gingirch lays out the case calmly, logically, and rationally. Andy McCarthy talkes about it at NRO, and I'll use the same excerpt he does, but I'll join him in encouraging you to read the whole thing, and to check out Gingrich's major foreign policy address tomorrow.

One of our biggest mistakes in the aftermath of 9/11 was naming our response to the attacks “the war on terror” instead of accurately identifying radical Islamists (and the underlying ideology of radical Islamism) as the target of our campaign. This mistake has led to endless confusion about the nature of the ideological and material threat facing the civilized world and the scale of the response that is appropriate.

Radical Islamism is more than simply a religious belief. It is a comprehensive political, economic, and religious movement that seeks to impose sharia—Islamic law—upon all aspects of global society.

Many Muslims see sharia as simply a reference point for their personal code of conduct. They recognize the distinction between their personal beliefs and the laws that govern all people of all faiths.

For the radical Islamist, however, this distinction does not exist. Radical Islamists see politics and religion as inseparable in a way it is difficult for Americans to understand. Radical Islamists assert sharia’s supremacy over the freely legislated laws and values of the countries they live in and see it as their sacred duty to achieve this totalitarian supremacy in practice.

Some radical Islamists use terrorism as a tactic to impose sharia but others use non-violent methods—a cultural, political, and legal jihad that seeks the same totalitarian goal even while claiming to repudiate violence. Thus, the term “war on terrorism” is far too narrow a framework in which to think about the war in which we are engaged against the radical Islamists.

As McCarthy points out, Gingrich goes on to describe "the authoritarian, anti-American, and often barbaric nature of sharia; the alarming advance of the sharia agenda in the United States; and how these matters ought to shape the understanding of, and opposition to, the proposed Ground Zero mosque project."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Classic This Just In

In honor of the recently completed Tour de France - and also because we didn't have anything else ready - here's one of Steve's classic This Just In stories from July 31, 2007. Enjoy! 

Bonds Wins Tour de France, Considering Run for the Roses

(PARIS, FRANCE - July 26, 2019) Astonishing sports history was made today when Barry Bonds, major league baseball’s controversial all-time home run king, broke through at the finish to win the 106th running of the Tour de France. Bonds, who celebrated his 56th birthday last week, was a last-minute and unexpected entry in the world’s most famous bicycle race, but easily outdistanced the competition to come away with the prized yellow jersey.

“I always liked bike riding,” said bonds after the 2,200 mile (3,540 km) race, while sipping on champagne at the Arc de Triomphe. “I’d been riding with my grandkids in the park recently, and I felt good, felt strong. Then I got a chance to meet some of the guys who ride in this race every year, and right away I knew they were my kind of people. So I gave it a shot.”

Bonds, who faced a deluge of questions – and a federal grand jury – about possible steroid use during his pursuit of Hank Aaron’s home run record in 2007, once again refused to address rumors of steroid use in this year’s Tour.

“You guys are stuck on the same old [stuff],” he said, his voice rising. “You’re like a broken record. Get off it, you’re old news, find a new story, man.”

Bonds, who finished his major league career in 2008 with a total of 775 home runs, had been living in seclusion at his Maui home until recently, but hinted that sports fans may not have heard the last of him. “There may be more to come, depending on how my knees are feeling after this. In fact, I’m giving serious consideration to running in the Kentucky Derby next spring.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend thoughts

We have now seen a $100,000 fine for Scuderia Ferrari ******** for “illegal team orders” involving a pass of Felipe Massa by Fernando Alonso with 18 laps to go in Sunday's Großer Preis Santander von Deutschland.

Where have we seen it with the big red cigarettes?

Should be an interesting week inside the World Motor Sport Council, and the Eni Magyar Nagydíj puts Formula One back on the live map.

NOTE: The team's name is censored under federal regulations

And another controversial restart? Scott Dixon makes it a Ganassi Weekend with a victory at the Honda Edmonton Indy, joining Jamie McMurray (Brickyard 400) as Chip's Winners of the Day. A controversial call on the final restart with Verizon Penske teammates Castroneves and Power is still reverbrating.

And the backlash over Sen. Graham's endorsement of Elena Kagan is proper. Why are we endorsing a judicial candidate who has publicly wanted to replace the Constitution with foreign law? And her hatred of the military and wanting it to be a social experiment has led to this:

Harry Reid wants total control to keep his No Debate, No Discussion in order to force as much of the Left's wicked secularist agenda down our throats.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Students strike back against humanist brainwashing at colleges

Persecution based on religious beliefs has become the trend in the United States, with laws such as Shepard-Byrd, numerous court cases in the past fifty years, and various state and local laws erasing Freedom of Religion, and instead mandating a specific state of beliefs of the state, similar to what Albert Herlong listed in 1963 as the goals of Communism. In Augusta, GA, a graduate student in counseling was informed she had to relinquish her religious beliefs and attend “sensitivity training” to brainwash her into the Gill Agenda's take on sexual deviancy, or face expulsion for not fitting into the Gill Agenda. She promptly filed a lawsuit.

The student asked an official at Augusta State University, where the student filing the lawsuit attended, how her Christian beliefs are less acceptable than a Muslim or Buddhist student, where the official responded, "Christians see this population as sinners." Romans 3:23 discretely states, “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” When I was in kindergarten at the parochial school, that verse was posted on the wall in Joan Bourne's class, and in every classroom we had in our school in learning our alphabet. It seems that professor has the attitude in Norman Greenbaum's “Spirit in the Sky” (a song that I've mentioned a few times for a blasphemous line) in that she feels she was never a sinner and has never sinned.

The school demanded she attend numerous sexual deviant-themed events in order to force her to be trained towards their viewpoint (homosexual, bisexual, “transgendered”), reading pro-sexual deviant articles in their magazines, and attending an area “homosexual pride” parade – with the likelihood she would be severely penalised if she said the truth of homosexuality and sexual deviancy by declaring homosexuality a sin (as is the case). Three verses in the Bible prove her case, as Leviticus 18:22 states, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” Leviticus 20:13 warns, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Deuteronomy 23:18 then exhorts to man, “You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog (male prostitute or sodomite) into the house of the Lord your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.”

This is not the only one here. There have been other cases. In Missouri State University's case, a professor was put on leave when a student filed a lawsuit after he forced her to lobby on behalf of legalising adoption by homosexual couples, and she was charged with ethics violations. The school found students were bullied into a no-debate, no-discussion, the professor is the gospel (even if it was false) attitude. In Eastern Michigan University, a student was expelled for not arguing in support of sexual deviancy, and legislators wanted to question school officials for it.

The persecution of Christians in 2010 is fitting with the plans of the secular humanists of today, wanting to form a new national humanist belief system based on the Gill Agenda and the ideals of every special interest group in brainwashing people into a system of feelings over truth. Students are now striking back at schools for forcing them to believe in the humanism of school officials and the elimination of Freedom of Religion, a fundamental belief quickly being wiped out by the Obama Administration in addition to education institutions' leaders.

Retro TV Friday

Budget Cuts Force British Government To Shut Down Mysterious Seaside Village

(via The Onion)
LONDON—Officials announced this week that the country's ongoing financial crisis would necessitate the closure of a mysterious seaside village operated by the British government since 1967. "In light of the current economic downturn, it is unwise to maintain this secret locale any longer," said a man identified only as Number Two, referring to the bucolic village whose sole aim appeared to be the recovery of desirable information from former intelligence agents. "Plus, the cost of maintaining human chessboards, outdated penny- farthings, and our state-of-the-art escapee- retrieval sphere just proved too much. We would have closed this whole place down years ago had it not been for one particularly uncooperative resident." The man refused to directly answer any questions about the village, instead using surreal imagery and oblique references before ending the press conference with a quiet and ominous "Be seeing you."


However, we have it on good authority that before the project was forced to shut down, they were able to make this promotional video:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Opera for Dummies (on Thursday)

Mitchell has been pestering me for over a year to contribute to the Our Word blog but I couldn’t think of anything that would come up to the high standards of the accomplished bloggers here. I have a blog, Stella Borealis, but it’s a Catholic news blog and while it has some worth, it doesn’t require that I bare my soul on a daily or weekly basis or expose my unorthodox lifestyle and idiosyncrasies to the world at large. Most of my soul baring and pontificating happens on other people’s blogs, internet news forums, and letters to the editor pages.

Mostly, I’m a dabbler. I’ve done lots of things, few of them really well. I have a long list of things that I should do at least once (getting my ticket punched before I depart this vale of tears), and now and then I do something about shortening the list. Going to an opera is one of those things

I used to listen to the Texaco radio broadcasts of the Met, not really understanding, but appreciating the marvelous sounds that came through the plastic speakers of my cheap radio. My best friend in high school was somewhat knowledgeable about opera because his dad, a firemen for the city and a regular guy, was a real opera fan and owned many vinyl disks. I thought to self, “Self, you too should go to an opera some day. They’re not just for rich people anymore.”

Back when I was at the U of MN I would note with approval when a dozen or so semis pulled up behind Northrup Auditorium, chock full of scenery, costumes and instruments for the annual springtime appearance of the Met, bringing a half dozen works of their just closed season to the upper midwest. People from hundreds of miles around would plan their annual vacations for those always sold out performances. The closest I ever got to attending one was peeking through a crack in one of the double doors, though. Actually, the closest I actually did get to any high culture was attending a movie showing of a performance by Nureyev and Fonteyn of the ballet, Les Corsaire, in a small town in Massachusetts when I was stationed there when I was in the Army.

Over time I have attended lots of theater performances and even some modern dance. I actually surprised myself by joining a Gregorian Chant schola a few years ago (They haven’t thrown me out). But I had never been to an opera. Then I read that the Met was recording their performances digitally and showing them live around the country on movie screens And during the Summer, they have encore performances of their more popular events.

I didn’t bite until a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The price of pay television: record low Open Championship ratings

The question over pay-television's control of the industry while shutting broadcast network affiliates and independent channels showed how pay-television means lower ratings, lesser quality, and more higher per-subscriber fees. Exhibit A has been for many years ESPN, where for more rights fees sporting events on broadcast networks such as the Chase, the Open, and the BCS, have moved to pay-television for more rights fees.

And for extremely low ratings too even if it's an upset winner.

When calculated for the difference between broadcast network ratings and cable ratings, the rating for The Open Championship at St. Andrews was clearly less than 2.0 – earning a 2.1 cable rating (there is inflation in a cable rating, based on percentage of homes with that channel available; for ESPN, it is based on the 86.2% of television homes with ESPN – not the 100% of homes with television. Watch for the Chase and BCS to receive similar inflated ratings for cable.

The move to pay-television only is hurting, and NBC affiliates sent a warning to Comcast that in acquiring NBC, they cannot move any NBC properties to USA or Versus. These affiliates rely on major sporting events to pay extra advertising revenue. Local ESPN Broadcast affiliates are paying the price for losing the Open and Chase. An IndyCar event in Toronto surely could have been moved to a 3 PM green flag to let the Open finish on network television. And television reruns on Sunday afternoon won't help with ratings when sports are on NBC, CBS, and Fox.

The record low ratings for the Open, regardless of who is in the final pairings, shows the real culprit is the move to pay-television. Lower ratings for more money means fewer people are watching. How senseless will it be in September when ESPN2 airs NASCAR Countdown and ESPN Cable airs the Chase event for all nine Sundays? That's millions of dollars in revenues lost by local ESPN Broadcast affiliates. Is the NBA Finals the next event to move to pay-television?

Thought crimes punishment

Last year, I warned that the passage of Shepard-Byrd (the Thought Crimes Act that criminalises Biblical speech and rewards sexual deviants with special rights) through the Defence Authorisation bill could lead to the loss of freedom of speech. In Spain, home of Campeónes de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA, a religious media organisation is facing a fine of €100,000 by the "Ministerio de Industria, Turismo y Comercio" (Ministry of Industry, Tourism, and Commerce). for releasing television commercials with the theme “Proud of What?", in response to homosexual "pride" festivals. The fine, according to the European arm of Jay Sekulow's American Centre for Law and Justice, violates freedom of expression.

Spain, which legalised false marriages when the ruling Socialists took over following the Madrid Train Bombings, has grown increasingly humanist in the Socialists' control, as marriage fell and now standards that allow baby murder at any point have been passed, in opposition to the majority of Catholics that form the majority of the country.

Could we see churches being fined millions of dollars by the FCC for running church services, or advertising, that says homosexuality is a sin?

Ake Green, a minister in Sweden, was indicted on similar crimes and was acquitted. But in the United States, with Shepard-Byrd, could we see a Spain situation where the rights of sexual deviants now replace Freedom of Speech? The President wants this and would love churches who say sexual deviancy is wrong be sent to prison.  

Monday, July 19, 2010

Get the Christian out

Guest Column by Cathy of Alex

Mitchell had a recent post about the Y taking the Christian out of it’s full name:Young Men’s Christian Association. How may of you knew the place with the great Olympic-sized pool was a Christian organization and used to pride itself upon that association?

In fact, the original YMCA logo featured the letters PX, the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, along with an open Bible and the words "John 17:21", in which Jesus says, "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." The organization even used to publish its own Bibles, which it started giving to Civil War soldiers as part of care packages.

When I grew up in South Minneapolis, my family (Catholics!) had a membership at the Blaisdell YMCA. The Blaisdell Y has an Olympic sized pool, diving board, sauna, workout room, aerobic classes, summer camps and other programs. I don’t ever recollect seeing overt Christianity there.In fact,it was years later that I even knew what the acronym meant and was surprised it was supposedly a faith-based organization.

To me, the Y was always a place to get fit or send your kids to a summer camp. In fact, my brother and I went to a summer camp run by thru the same Blaisdell Y. We never prayed at camp. There was no Bible reading. We were too busy taking horseback riding lessons. Of course, when I learned how to canter on that horse I felt like praying!

Many of you have heard of the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. However, did you know that the Y has not been spared that either?

In Minnesota, allegations of sexual abuse have surfaced involving Camp Warren, a Minneapolis Y camp, near Eveleth MN. The alleged abuser, William Allan Jacobs, had been repeatedly accused of molesting boys over an 18 –year period while he worked in 3 private schools and was a counselor at Camp Warren. All of his alleged abuses were known by administrators, including those at the Y. No one in a position to do so, reported him to the authorities.

Sound familiar?

These are the same scenerios we hear about with the Catholic Church these days. Alleged abuse occurred over a period of time, while people in charge supposedly knew and failed to report it to the authorities much less warn parents or keep kids away from the abuser.

Should the Y be held to the same standard as the Catholic Church? Some could argue the Y is not a Christian organization anyway; it ceased to be that so long ago, and the name change just confirmed that fact. It’s Christian in the same vague feel good amophous way that so much personal faith is these days.

Today, the Minneapolis Y mission is "to develop the total person - spirit, mind and body - through character development programs that build strong kids, strong families and strong communities." What principles? Defnied by whom, by what? Meanwhile, the mission of the St. Paul Y is "to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all." So the St. Paul Y mentions Christian “principles”, while the Minneapolis Y has no word of Christianity. Does this mean we should hold the St. Paul Y to higher standards because of their mission?

Some of us could argue that the Catholic Church has lost its way. Not trad enough, too trad, not always Catholic, etc. Whether an organization has Christian or Catholic in its name or not is meaningful to personal spiritual development; it's meaningless in matters of abuse. Abuse of trust, abuse of person is meaningful regardless of whether it’s the Catholic Church or the Y.

Both the Y and the Catholic Church were entrusted with the care and development of children; our children, and, in some cases, they failed that trust.

However, when is the last time you heard the press blasting the local Y and demanding leadership change at the top as a “solution” to the abuse problem? Especially when that leade has a salary in the six figures, as the CEO of the Minneapolis YMCA does? Never.

If we as a society are going to demand accountability then we need to apply the requirement equally.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Classic TV Friday

The opening title sequence is something of a lost art form on TV series today.  Because of the need to cram in all those commercials, not to mention the desire to get straight to the show rather than risk losing the restless, attention-deficit audience, to another show, you rarely see complex, creative opening titles anymore.

One of my favorites is from the 60s-70s Quinn Martin series The FBI. And it's not just the stirring theme music, known as the "FBI March," that sets the scene. Combined with the wonderful use of iconic images of Washington - the Pentagon, the Washington Monument - it reinforces the sense that many citizens had in the pre-Vietnam, pre-Watergate era: that the government really did represent truth, justice, and the American way. As if that weren't enough, the episode teaser just prior to the credits, showing not only the crime but the specific Federal law being broken, underlines the folly of these stupid criminals, thinking they can escape the FBI. When the FBI (or at least Efram Zimbalist, Jr.) gets on your trail, you've had it.

If, after seeing this, you didn't want to join the FBI immediately - or at least stand up and place your hand over your heart - well, you just weren't an American.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Classic Sports Thursday

The one thing, the only thing really, that surprised me about the Lebron James affair was that anyone was surprised at all.

Not that Lebron (or LBJ, as ESPN tells us we must refer to him) signed with Miami in the end. It’s all right to be surprised about that. At the beginning I hadn’t even seen Miami on the radar screen; like so many casual fans* I figured he’d be headed for New York. And, in the face of all that, it would have been equally OK to be surprised had he decided to stay in Cleveland.

*Bringing a new level to casual fan: I probably haven’t watched a dozen basketball games in the last dozen years. I actually look for excuses to turn down free tickets to Timberwolves games. Perhaps that makes me more of a non-fan than a casual one. Or at least a discerning one.

No, what people had no right to be surprised about was how the decision was presented. It was crass, tasteless, insensitive. It also garnered tons of publicity, and a significant viewing audience on a television network that essentially pre-empted its entire evening schedule to cover – not a sporting event, not a competitive contest, but the announcement by the best player in the game as to where he was going to play the next year.

In short, it was America. It represented virtually everything good and bad about today’s culture, with the possible exception of sex. We are now a land of the reality show, of the infamous 15 minutes of fame having grown to the point where the word “celebrity” has been diluted beyond recognition. Everything is important, everyone is worthy of attention, every event is Breaking News. Tornado watch in Arkansas? Car chase in Los Angeles? Put it on – saturation coverage. I’m surprised we don’t have a cable channel devoted to traffic cameras catching drivers running red lights.*

*A million-dollar idea, probably. It’s yours.

Under these circumstances, what James did last week was not only understandable, it was logical, predictable. It may well have been the only thing he could have done. If this sounds like I’m making excuses for him, well, he doesn’t need me to do that. He’s taken a lot of heat (no pun intended) for that announcement, particularly from the owner of the Cavs (more on that in a minute). Sportswriters have condemned him, pundits have tisk-tisked, talking heads have debated him. But you know who’s remained silent about this?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Abuse of freedom

Last year, I referenced Orwellian doublespeak (from 1984) and in light of recent discussions and campaign strategies, I learned even the word “Freedom” has now become the subject of Orwellian doublespeak. As such, federal laws and liberal bill ideas fit the ideology of the use of “freedom” in an abusive matter.

Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. This law gives abortion clinics special protection churches, houses, and other places cannot receive – a federal law protecting them from anything.

Freedom of Choice Act. This bill (which is endorsed by House and Senate leaders, along with the President) would invalidate all laws against infanticide and open murder of children to all nine months plus. The worst part is it is an abuse of the term “freedom” in that it allows baby murder at all times.

Freedom to Marry. Used by liberal activists to promote sexual deviancy (same-sex “marriage”) by court orders and liberal legislatures, it is an abuse of the term to mandate their demands. New Hampshire governor John Lynch is running for a fourth two-year term and is using “freedom of choice” and “freedom to marry” as his accomplishments. It actually is a sell-out to the Gill Agenda, and now we have a potential Supreme Court justice who, as Solicitor General, is sold out to this agenda that she will betray federal (Defence of Marriage Act) law in order to push their own leftist agenda.

Have we allowed the Left to abuse terms to appease their own special organisations?

Opera Wednesday

Not to toot my own horn, but "Three Kings in 50 Minutes," my article on Gian Carlo Menotti's Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, is now available at the Opera America website. My thanks to Evan Wildstein and the good people at Opera America, who do so much to further opera education.

Speaking of Menotti, here's a clip from an early 60s televised performance of one of his greatest operas, The Consul, the timeless, grim story of a woman in a totalitarian country. This is Patricia Neway singing "To This We've Come."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Final word on the World Cup

It was an ugly game on Sunday, the 1-0 victory by Spain over the Netherlands to claim the 2010 World Cup. As more than one commentator said, it probably didn't win the sport any new fans,and even the diehards had their patience tested. (At least it didn't go into a shootout, which would kind of be like settling the Super Bowl with a field goal kicking contest.)

Even so, Joe Posnanski at found some beauty in a match that was something less than "The Beautiful Game," and he shows once again why he's one of the best sportswriters today:  The Glory of Spain.

Now, if only the game had been this exciting...


Bob Sheppard, R.I.P.

Bob Sheppard was the voice of God. Actually, he was the voice of Yankee Stadium, of the New York Yankees. (Which, some would say, is the same thing.)  He died Sunday at the age of 99 years, 8 months, and I think it's safe to say no stadium public address announcer was ever more beloved.

I never set foot in Yankee Stadium, never heard Sheppard's voice in person. And yet, even through the tinny sound of television speakers, I could feel what others felt, could tell that Bob Sheppard was more than a voice, he was The Voice - the the definitive article, one might say.  The AP obit mentioned how "[o]nce, while ordering a Scotch and soda at a bar, Sheppard watched as heads turned his way.  He often read at Mass, and was subsequently greeted by parishioners noting he sounded exactly like the announcer at Yankee Stadium.  'I am,'' he would reply."  Gravely, one imagines.

Speaking of definitive, although I consider myself pretty good when it comes to obits, I also know when to defer to a piece of writing that can't be topped. Hence, Tom Verducci's appreciation of Sheppard at Monday. A sample:
There was a game back in the 1980s at the stadium when the bullpen gate was left ajar after a pitching change had been made. The umpires were vainly trying to secure the attention of anybody in the bullpen to close the gate, which was actually part of the outfield wall in left-center field, so the game could resume. Sheppard caught on to what was happening.

Suddenly, in a rare in-game moment when he spoke into the public address microphone for anything other than a player introduction, Sheppard announced in that proper cadence of his, "Will someone . . . in the bullpen area . . . please close . . . the bullpen gate . . .Thank you."

It was closed immediately, lest the risk of a lightning bolt or two. Only Sheppard could turn such a prosaic moment into something approaching divine providence. I was in the press box that night and was struck by the commanding nature of his voice. The stadium actually came to a hush. His voice did, in that Charlton Heston, The Ten Commandments kind of cinematic way, really sound like the voice of God coming down from on high.

It doesn't get much better than that, does it?  Either the writing, or the announcing. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Because, of course, we wouldn’t want to use that embarrassing “C” word

Courtesy of NRO:
One of the nation’s most iconic nonprofit organizations, founded 166 years ago in England as the Young Men’s Christian Association, is undergoing a major rebranding, adopting as its name the nickname everyone has used for generations.

“It’s a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you,” said Kate Coleman, the organization’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
No word if this has anything to do with bringing the organization's name more in line with their values

Analyzing the weekend's stories

Joseph C. Phillips: Who is John Locke?  Locke's fundamental philosophy influenced the United States, but we're teaching the CCCP in our schools instead, and the ideals of Karl Marx. I remember my fifth-grade history book teaching the evils of the CCCP. But why no love for freedom in our books today? Where is the teaching of Mr. Locke in our schoos?

James Allen:  Mark Webber, the "#2 Driver" at Red Bull, dominates the Santander British Grand Prix.  While preparing lunch, I watched the rebroadcast of the Santander Grand Prix, and it was dominating as you could see it. The whining, backbreaking, and entire attitude of the driver showed from the lights through Copse as he took the final chequered flag past Woodcote in F1 after over 55 years of racing at Silverstone. (Next year, start-finish will be through Club.)

Greta van Susteren: Switzerland snubs the United States (on the Roman Polanski charges of unlawful sex).  In recent years, with the ideals that foreign laws usurp laws of the 50 states, we have legalised sodomy by judicial mandate. We have also declared sexual deviancy a protected class. Now a sexual predator is now rewarded by not having to be deported to face his time?

Jillian Bandes: Tax Increases on the Horizon.  Analysis: In 2001 and 2003, when tax cuts were written, the minority Democrats wrote an expiration so the Clinton-era tax rates could be restored quickly, and they wrote it so they can have the tax hikes in their favour. Now as they have control of both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, the perfect storm of the "triple crown" (House, Senate, White House) means they can increase taxes to add all of the new spending of the Socialist Nation.

David Stokes: The Politics of LeBron James, Stephen Strasburg, and Warren Spahn.  Analysis: The James to Miami deal was, as I had thought, a tax issue. Over Six percent in Ohio, double (city and state) in New York, and zero in Florida was an easy tax break. Strasburg's pitching limits seem, in this writer's new, be a Nanny State with pitching limits. He compares it to Warren Spahn, in a MIL-SF game in 1963, where both pitchers (Marichal the other) pitched 16 innings. Relief pitching wasn't much of a thought in those days. I've seen in Gamecock baseball lore the history where pitchers (often middle relief or closers) throw over 120 pitches in near or sometimes full complete games in order to stay alive in the NCAA Tournament (Taylor, 2002, versus North Carolina, Roth 2010, versus Clemson). That's rare today in baseball. Even in Little League there are pitch count limits. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekend Digest

Dennis Prager: The difference between 'World Opinion' and Left-Wing Opinion.

Michelle Malkin: Open-Borders Department of Justice versus America.

Concerned Women for America: Bad Romance: (Centre for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director) Donald Berwick and the United Kingdom's Health Care System.

John Stossel: Parasitic Tort Lawyers.

Real Clear Markets: Race, Gender Quotas in Banking Bill?

A Little Leaven: The next round of “sermons” at Life Enhancement Centres.

Glenn Beck: 1932 All Over Again.

Oh, by the way: do the Latin America region play-by-play men who call soccer matches create a type of trouble that has sadly permeated soccer leads in North America that we don't want that type of annoying goal screamers and instead go with low-key, let the scorer's own emotions take over type of goal calls that is too boring? If Pat Summerall was calling soccer, he might have just announced the scoring player, and the importance of the score, and drop his microphone as the celebration takes place. That would be boring to the screamers of radio or even the Latin America style. But what would happen if Mike Lange had called soccer matches?

Friday, July 9, 2010

The 10 things we'll miss about the World Cup

With Sunday's Spain-Netherlands World Cup final set,the realization hits home that this year's tournament, which has been the dominant sports event for nearly a month, is almost over.  Seems almost as if it's become a way of life, like the Olympics or the State Fair, and in a way it's hard to imagine the sporting life without it.  Here, in no particular order, are the ten things we'll miss most when the World Cup ends on Sunday:

  1. The announcers.  We've talked about this at length already, but after hearing the likes of Martin Tyler and Ian Darke for the last month, it's gonna be hard to go back to the screaming, shouting, amateur-night-at-the-improv atmosphere that we here too often on TV.  You got it right this time, ESPN - can we dare hope you might duplicate it someday, even by mistake?
  2. The vuvuzelas.  I never thought I'd be writing this.  Yes, they drove us crazy when the tournament first started.  And yet by the second week, we'd become almost affectionate towards them.  There's something so, I don't know - joyful - about them.  And, at the risk of sounding disgustingly multi-cultural, they are indeed uniquely African, and it's given this tournament a distinctive flavor that won't soon be forgotten.
  3. The coverage.  Almost as enjoyable as listening to the announcing crew has been reading the analysis from the sport's experts. Georgina Turner at has provided wonderful live blogging of the big games, and her droll commentary, mixed in with emails from readers, give her the quality that most writers would kill for - the sense that we, as readers, know her.
  4. The drama.  Yes, many of the players out there act like drama queens, complete with fainting spells, agonizing any time an elbow comes within two inches of their face as if they'd had their eyes gouged out.  We're not talking about that kind of drama.  The chaotic scene at the end of extra time in the Uruguay-Ghana match - that was drama.  The last minute goal by the U.S. to put them into the second round - that was drama.  The buildup to last Saturday's Germany-Argentina match - that was drama.  True, soccer can be about as exciting as watching paint dry - but it can be fun as well.
  5. The big-game atmosphere.  No, I don't mean that we should think of this as the ultimate event simply because the rest of the world does.  What I mean is that these games really matter.  Face it, no matter what sport we're talking about, there are just too many meaningless games.  But in the World Cup, from the voices of the announcers to the electricity of the crowd, you get the sense that you're seeing and hearing something important.  Particularly during the first two games of the round-robin part of the tournament, every game mattered. 
  6. The game's the thing.  I could be completely wrong about this, but what strikes me most in looking at the crowds during the World Cup is that most of them appear to be - fans.  Unlike American sports, which tend to be dominated by Corporate Suits and Big Shots, it's kinda refreshing to see real people in the stands actually rooting for their favorite teams - and even paying attention to what's going on down on the pitch.  What a concept!
  7. Bashing the French.  The French were, hands-down, the worst team in this year's World Cup.  The announcers let them know, the press let them know, their countrymen let them know.  And not only were they a bad team, they were tempermental, dysfunctional, lazy, arrogant - well, that only scratches the surface.  I ask you - does bashing the French ever really get old?
  8. Early morning games. During the first two weeks, the action started at 6:30 a.m. CT - early enough for me to catch the first half before heading to work. What a change from the usual dreck on morning TV - the soul-crushing darkness of infomercials, the blather of happy-talk morning news, the lefties on CNN and the blithering idiots on Fox & Friends. Not to mention workout shows, movies on Lifetime, light-in-the-loafer decorators on HGTV... maybe it wasn't a reason to live, but it was reason enough to turn on the television.
  9. The history.  I don't know how many times I heard reference to the 1966 England-West Germany match, the 1950 Uruguay victory over Brazil in Rio, America's historic victory over England in that same tournament, or the epic comeback by Portugal against North Korea in 1966.  Never mind that none of the players in those games are part of this tournament, or that today's players weren't even born yet - the history of the World Cup lives on in these games, a part of the heritage of each nation's team.
  10. The U.S. as Underdog.  Don't get me wrong - I wanted the U.S. to win as much as anyone.  And some day we will win the World Cup.  But until then, there's nothing better than listening to the rest of the world ridicule us, scoff at our efforts, and take us lightly.  Don't they know by now that you always take the U.S. lightly at your own peril?  It may be hard to see us lose today, but it'll make that eventual victory all the sweeter.  

Wish I'd Written That

Only one recital stands between me and the degree. Will I be victorious? You be the judge. See you there!

Jun Matsuo is joining me on the piano for an hour of truly wonderful music. The recital is centered around the poetry of Gabriele D'Annunzio, an Italian poet, novelist, patriot and daredevil. It fe...atures Italian art song compositions from 1900 to 1930, including works by Ildebrando Pizzetti, Francesco Paolo Tosti, Franco Casavola, and Gian Francesco Malipiero among others.

-- My long-time voice teacher wrote that about her upcoming doctoral recital.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Opera Thursday

Apparently, judging by the site's header, it's soccer week or something around here. What, I thought, do I have to contribute to that?

Most people have probably forgotten about this by now, but in fact The Three Tenors owe their existance to the World Cup. For it was on the eve of the 1990 final in Rome that they first performed together, with Zubin Mehta conducting the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.

From that first concert, here are Domingo, Pavarotti and Carreras singing "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot. Remember this when you're watching the World Cup final on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Opinion Digest

Charles Krauthammer on NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s interview with Al Jazeera in which he said that President Obama’s “perhaps foremost” priority for NASA was “to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering”:

This is a new height in fatuousness. NASA was established to get America into space and to keep us there. This idea of "to feel good about their past scientific achievements" – it’s the worst combination of group-therapy psychobabble, imperial condescension, and adolescent diplomacy.  (H/T The Corner)
Tony Johns (Pop Off Valve) on the disaster that is ABC's coverage of IndyCar:
That low level of performance only exacerbates the issues facing ABC’s auto racing coverage, particularly concerning the IZOD IndyCar Series. ABC treats IndyCar racing the same way they would treat professional basket-weaving or Extreme Hair Styling - superficially, and with an underlying sense that they’d rather be somewhere else.
Finally, to end the Independence Day weekend (one day late), here's Chet Atkins with The Stars and Stripes Forever:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wish I'd Written That

I do believe you'd laid a curse on North America!
A curse that we here now rehearse in Philadelphia!
A second Flood, a simple famine,
Plagues of locusts everywhere,
Or a cataclysmic earthquake,
I'd accept with some despair.
But, no, you've sent us Congress -
Good God, Sir, was that fair?

John Adams (as written by Sherman Edwards), 1776

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Importance of America

The fourth-grade history book at the parochial school I attended for the majority of my secondary school life (which was much better than the college-prep or government school that I attended afterwards because of the excessive physical abuse at both schools; I later learned the reason for such abuse was the type of teachings they offered, which was the same; how could I picture a seventh-grade math book teaching fringe environmentalism, and have to face gruesome abuse that I cannot explain on a family-friendly site, or later in government school, where the abuse continued, and science books taught junk science and history books taught anti-Americanism, while civics books taught virtues of big government) required us to learn the first half of the Declaration of Independence, the American's Creed, Preamble to the Constitution, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

With an excessive abuse of powers by the current Administration, it is time we re-read the document that was written 234 years ago, and remember our school books other than those of parochial ones it seems forgets our Founding Fathers and our Founding Documents. Some of these charges hold true in 2010 considering the dictatorship of this Administration wants us back in the Stone Ages. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Classic Sports Thursday

I'm sitting here watching tonight's Canadian Football League opener (yes, I know it's only July 1), while at the same time reading Stewart Mandel's College Football Mailbag on, and I run across the following question from Seth in Omaha: "Stewart, what do we need to do to convince ESPN to keep Derek Rae, Martin Tyler or Ian Darke on the company payroll through college football season?"


Rae, Tyler and Darke are three of the British announces which ESPN imported for their coverage of the World Cup.  When last we saw the World Cup, in 2006, the Worldwide Leader was pretty much making a hash of the whole thing.  American announcers spent most of their time trying to explain the game to people unfamiliar with soccer, all the while displaying their own lack of experitise.  Oh, and for much of the time they did this while sitting in a studio, miles (if not a continent) away from the stadium, watching the game on a monitor.  No wonder so many soccer fans turned over to Univision; even if you couldn't understand a word the announcers said, you still came away feeling you understood more about the game than if you'd stuck it out on the American broadcast.

When ESPN announced they'd hired Martin Tyler, one of the premier British football broadcasters, as their lead announcer for this year's Cup, it was the first signal that they'd heard the voice of the fans.  In fact, all four of the play-by-play announcers for this year are British, and the network further said they'd be giving us the games straight up, without pandering to the lowest common denominator.  Finally, they'd figured out that giving us the remedial version of soccer didn't make anyone happy: it enraged those who did understand the game, while doing little to make it attractive to those new to the sport.

Because of this, it has for me been a pleasure watching ESPN's coverage this year.  And, judging by Stewart's correspondent (as well as Stewart himself), I'm not the only one who feels this way.  I've always been a fan of Tyler's, having heard him on broadcasts of the English Premier League* and the UEFA Champions League games, but all of the Brit announcers have been knowledgable, understated, literate, and not afraid to speak their minds, whether discussing the quality of play on the field or the lack of same from the officials.  Yes, we all know how easy it is to pick on France, but they haven't shied away from discussing everything from the performance of the United States to the controversy surrounding the new ball being used to the constant din of the omnipresent vuvuzelas.  Oh yes, and they've resisted the urge to treat every big play as if it were an apocalyptic moment in the history of the world.  I'm not the biggest soccer fan in the world, but I'll be sorry to see this year's tournanent come to an end.

* If you really do want to learn to enjoy soccer, I'd recommend starting with the Premier League.  The World Cup is is often cautious, conservative - yes, boring.  The Premier League, on the other hand, is quite different - exciting and relatively fast-paced, with more offensive play and definitely more color, particularly from the fans, who seem to find different ways to serenade their teams with endless stanzas of "You'll Never Walk Alone."  Definitely the place to start.

Now, having said that, here's the great Martin Tyler - not quite as cool as we're used to hearing him - dispelling the notion that watching soccer is as exciting as paint drying.  This is from the Champions League final of 1999, and proves you can watch soccer without falling asleep!  The sound isn't quite synched up with the picture, but it's thrilling nonetheless. 

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